A Detroit cancer doctor who made nearly $20 million off hundreds of patients suffering from unneeded chemotherapy and other stunningly bad treatments was sentenced to serve 540 months in federal prison (his guidelines were 360-life). All you people crowing that he certainly won’t have to serve all of that sentence are correct—with good time he’ll still have to serve 460 months and 9 days (a little more than 38 years for those of you who are mathematically challenged). This case stands firmly for the proposition that bad facts make for long sentences:
Dr. Farid Fata, 50, openly wept in court as he apologized for his actions, admitted to fraudulently billing Medicare, insurance companies and at least 550 patients through misdiagnoses, over-treatment and under-treatment. In some cases, he gave nearly four times the recommended dosage amount of aggressive cancer drugs; in at least one, a patient was given toxic chemotherapy for five years when the standard treatment was six months.
Dr. Fata told Judge Paul Borman that “I misused my talents… because of power and greed. My quest for power is self-destructive,” a sobbing Fata told the court before sentencing. He said he is “horribly ashamed of my conduct” and prays for repentance.
Defense attorney Christopher Andreoff asked for a sentence of no more than 25 years in prison, saying even that could be a life sentence because of Fata’s health. “Our recommendation will give him nothing more than a chance for release before he dies,” Andreoff said. The government wanted a 175 year sentence, which seemed like a bit much given the applicable actuarial tables.
Judge Borman heard accounts of about 22 victims, who shared unthinkable experiences of a healthy adult undergoing chemotherapy and losing nearly all his teeth and of a patient diagnosed with lung cancer when he had kidney cancer. Some statements were read by family members of patients who died. Some patients with no documented iron deficiencies were given overwhelming amounts of iron, while others were given lower-than-needed doses of chemotherapy drugs.
“This is a huge, horrific series of criminal acts that were committed by the defendant,” U.S. District Judge Borman said, later adding that Dr. Fata “practiced greed and shut down whatever compassion he had.” Judge Borman said the crimes called for “a very significant sentence for very, very terrible conduct.” (Those are not the comments that any criminal defendant wants to hear from the judge before he’s about to be sentenced.)